Image courtesy of Dr Melissa Murphy
Dr Melissa Murphy from University College London has been awarded the 2018 Gilchrist Fieldwork Award for her research project: High-Arctic rivers: a source or sink for atmospheric carbon dioxide?
Dr Murphy’s research seeks to understand chemical weathering in the Zackenberg River of north-eastern Greenland, to help determine how these environments control carbon dioxide release and storage. Working with Dr Emily Stevenson from the University of Cambridge, Melissa is spending July and August of this year collecting water samples from different rivers within the Zackenberg River catchment. The water samples will be analysed for dissolved and suspended particulates of lithium, calcium, strontium and sulfate isotopes, which act as unique tracers and can be used to identify silicate, carbonate and sulfate weathering processes. In turn, this can determine whether the Zackenberg River catchment is acting as a source or a sink for inorganic carbon, and how these processes impact atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.
This approach has never before been applied to a high-Arctic permafrost dominated terrain and this is the first study to use unique isotope tracers to calculate carbon dioxide fluxes in the region. Ultimately, by improving our understanding of atmospheric carbon dioxide processes in glacial environments, this research will inform global climate models and help predict how the Earth may respond to future climate changes.
The Gilchrist Fieldwork Award is given by the Gilchrist Educational Trust and judged in conjunction with the Society. The award was created in 1990 and offers £15,000 funding for a challenging overseas fieldwork project which includes a minimum of six weeks in the field. Run biennially, the next award will be given in 2020.
Find out more and how to apply.
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